Tomo and I talked on the phone about three weeks before school started. He called me. When I answered the phone and he told me who he was, I kinda freaked. Here’s this stranger who I’m about to spend the next nine months living with. I realized that it was a pivotal moment in my life. I realized that I might be talking to my Future Best Friend In The Entire World.
Tomo was very eager to talk about soccer. He loved soccer, I remember that very well. I wasn’t into soccer. I didn’t know anything about soccer. I couldn’t even fake a conversation about soccer if I tried. But I did try, I swear. I really wanted to have the Ultimate College Experience and the U.C.E. definitely required having an awesome relationship with your freshman roommate.
My freshman roommate was supposed to be someone who would eventually turn out to be the best man at my wedding. We were supposed to become two peas in a pod, Laverne and Shirley, peanut butter and jelly. Two people who fit really well together. We could be different, sure—he could be a soccer dude and I could be a drama dude—and our differences would compliment each other and help us take over the entire school together. We were going to become the bestest buds, dammit. It was destined to happen.
So I tried to talk to Tomo about soccer during that phone call. Because I wanted to bond with him. I swear I tried to talk about soccer. I might have even mentioned Pele (“soccer’s greatest genius,” according to google). I tried really hard. It was a really awkward conversation. It was the only one Tomo and I ever had.
I guess, after our phone conversation, Tomo decided that we had nothing in common, because he spent the next year ignoring me. I stopped trying to become his best friend and we settled into a non-talking, co-living groove. It was, to my mind at least, the most awkward, uncomfortable, weird living experience in the history of living experiences ever. (I was destined to have weirder living experiences, but back then I used to be really dramatic and every day that I lived with Tomo and we didn’t speak to each other felt so supremely mondo-weird.)
Years after graduating, I was talking to my friend Roman, who’s still friends with Tomo, and Roman mentioned that I came up in conversation once and that Tomo spoke fondly of the time when he and I lived together. That Tomo even went so far as to say that it was a really great living experience. One of the best.
Wait, what????? It was a great living experience???
Seriously? It was a great living experience?!@?!???!? Um, are we talking about the same living experience? Because, um…
Wait, WHAT???!!???!?? It was a great motherfucking living experience?@!@?#?? What the frig?!??
Roman explained: “Yeah, you left him alone and he loved that.”
Anyway, the other night, at Marvin’s birthday party, I was sitting with my friend Adam (who’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met) (he’s seriously been going to college for the last 57 years and he’s only 28-years-old) and I looked across the room and suddenly saw Tomo. (Oh my god.)
It turns out that Adam was Tomo’s sophomore roommate. (Okay, double weird.)
In fact, it turns out every single one of Tomo’s college roommates was at this party. (Triple weird.)
So we decided to stage some Tomo roommate reunion photos. And that’s when Tomo and I had the least awkward conversation we’ve ever had.
ME: Hey Tomo.
ME: It’s me, Erik.
ME: Your freshman roommate.
TOMO: Oh, hey.
TOMO: I didn’t recognize you with your hair.
ME: Oh, right! Of course. So, hey, how’s it going?
ME: Okay, so, um, all of your college roommates are here and I was hoping we could take some pictures.
That was it. That was the conversation. Which might seem awkward if you’re reading it right now, but I promise you it was the best conversation we’ve ever had.
Here’s a picture of me and Tomo, re-enacting our freshman living experience:
I want you to notice two things about this photo. First of all, please notice that I'm wearing my red fucking shirt. Second, even though Roman says that Tomo says that we had a great living experience together, he certainly doesn't seem to be very happy re-enacting that living experience. Third, I think this photo documents the first moment of physical contact Tomo and I have ever had.
Things changed when Tomo re-enacted his sophomore living experience with Adam:
Oh my god, he's SO MUCH HAPPIER TO BE LIVING WITH ADAM!
Now, Tomo lived alone his junior year. Check it out:
Obviously, living alone is even better than living with Adam (which is so, so much better than living with me).
Tomo lived with several roommates his senior year:
Okay, so, living with three guys doesn't seem to be as good as living alone or just living with Adam, but it still looks like Tomo prefers it to living with me.
(I just published this post and then re-read it and was like, wow, that post sure ends abruptly and without much of an ending, but I totally just ran out of energy.) (I'm sorry.)
(PLEASE NOTE: All of the photos in this post were taken by photog-extraordinaire Lindsay Firth, who also happens to have the distinction of winning the battle for "First Comment" on this particular post.) (Lindsay, your "First Comment" t-shirt is in the mail.) (Wouldn't that be cool if I really had shirts that said "First Comment" on them and I really sent them out to people who commented first?) (That would be hecka cool.) (Hella cool, even.) (Maybe the coolest thing in the history of cool things.) (Definitely cooler than Marlon Brando.) (But maybe not quite as cool as Punky Brewster.)